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The best understanding of America begins or so it seems to us with the realisation that this nation is young yet that she's still a new one unfinished. That even America is mind's greatest adventure in time and space. The University of North Carolina through a grant and aid from the National Association of educational broadcasters presents American Adventure a study of mine in the New World a series made possible by the fund for adult education and independent agency established by the Ford Foundation. Written by Johnny Lee directed by John Clayton today's recorded program presents Johnny Lee as the novelist Thomas Wolfe in an unfound d'Or. Kuch kuch.
What is it. Who's out there. Prof. Tom what are you doing here to two in the morning I got to see a profit I got to see you thought I was asleep. Yes sir can I talk to you a prophet. Come on into the living room and sit down. Excuse me a minute when I get this oh forget the fire I won't be here long just a minute. But it had to be now. All right sit down. We'll freeze together. I get worried about something and I can't stop worrying about it. Really important Tom. I was go to the dean's office this afternoon. You're not in trouble surely not with the university. With myself. The Dean said that being a military school you know where that is the one in Nashville. That's right. They need an English teacher. The Dean said he had suggested me. Well it's a little early in the morning for deep thinking Tom but on the surface I still can't see any reason for knocking down my door at 2 a.m. I wrote my folks and told
them I'd take the job Tom Wolf. How tall are you. Six feet seven inches. If you don't tell me what you got me out of bed at this an earthly hour then tell me simply how I'm going to take all six feet of you and throw you out of the house. But how can I tell you simply it isn't simple it's a matter of my life and my life isn't simple. All right. Be as complex as you like while I freeze today. I'm sorry. My dreams are too big. That's my trouble. They're all out of size. What dreams of writing. Being famous. Hearing words I've written spoken on the stage see them in print like a boy dreams of being a cop I guess. But you're not a boy Tom. You're big into rustic big men should dream big dream all you can dream a dream for a thousand years and still not have anything in your hand to show for it. What does this job in Nashville have to do with all this. If I take the job I'll never
write you and the other professors the other ones who've taken an interest in me. You've opened up the future expanded with visions proclaimed it for youth and I'm young I feel a future right here beating with my policy. I have to say it whatever it is I have to put you down in writing. If I take this job lose my vision's lose my youth. I don't want ever to be cynical. Can I write prophet Tom. I've told you a thousand times in a hundred like I know that anybody can write but can I write you can feel Can't you talk and smell and hear and think. Sure. Then with training you can write. Never doubt that you have a mind for remembering pictures and expressions remembering inflections and sounds and smells and. And you have words. You're one of the best potential writers I've ever known. Well I'm glad you said it.
And sorry to say I don't see you'll ever be a great writer Tom nobody can say that but you have a chance. You have ability and you have the faith to want to try. Look I think I can write down inside me I'm almost sure I have to write even to live. But I have to learn more don't I so do we all Tom. You mentioned once at a Professor Baker at Harvard had the best writing course in the country remember that the best there is. He's an old professor of mine Sanju said that I have thought about going to Harvard and taking that course I see. It won't be easy to go. Won't be easy to get into Harvard will it. Baker has a limited class of 12 students a year Tom. I have to go. I can't take this job in Asheville. Tell me I can write. Tell me I have to tell me to go to Harvard tell me I have to fight to go to Harvard when I get home. You would overwhelm an oak tree. You're asking me to ask you to risk your whole life to gamble with it.
And I will. I think you've got what it takes hold I'm not sure exactly what it is. If you put us all in that time soldiers need now. Prof cotch. Top How are you boy. Hello Mr. Don't remember used to live in the house next to mother's boarding house. How are you aboard. Here take it home most over us to go here you little more than a kid are you. And I'm 18. Second time I heard some great things about you being editor of the school magazine and newspaper men on the campus. I'm tall enough to be big. That's not all that sure is proud are you proudest woman in Buncombe County say you're going to amount to something. I'm tend to mistake over How's that. I intend to amount to a great deal. You don't say remember when I was a
boy I sort of thought I would too but here I am 54 and I'm still on the road a good job my gym voted and it didn't mean to sound egotistical Mr. Coulter. That's all right. I understand about he was just don't get your hopes too high leaves too much room under you know when you fall. This is war. Should I get an e-mail this afternoon. If you did Mrs cover son it's on the table and you call us get out of my way. Pretty nice about Tom getting that off of him being a military school isn't it. I dare say it's no more than my Tom deserves to be good to have him back home or when did you think it wouldn't. Well no I didn't think you know I believe that. Here move this is. This is. A law that you have to stop yelling or pay your room rent Mrs. Taylor. This is who your
youngest son is home. Also seven feet of him just pushing open the gate. Oh well you wouldn't you know he'd be back just when I didn't have time to turn around. Mrs Culbertson watched them eat them. They've all been in here Tom law. I gotta go all over me in the kitchen as usual Oi. Yes so you're Tom Wolfe. Now put on them heavy bags before you break your back. Are you more. Oh good as could be expected after working 16 hours a day. Well come on Kiss Me Hello. Now go up and get washed for dinner. LOL I've got to start filling out that frame of yours Tom. Don't they feed you at that university. No I haven't lost any weight. Don't tell me. Go hurry and get washed for supper and you Mrs. Taylor may go over to PAX square and tell Tom's father to come eat with his hands washed. He's got a college graduate for supper. You here have this other pork chop taco thing small but take
it. Thanks. Our school is years Ron. Well it really I don't know how I'm going to feel you always did have an appetite it didn't get you we know you were almost four years and your father is responsible for that. Counselor Q to another Elaine I know I know you're a college graduate now but you'll never grow up as far as I'm concerned Tom. It's good for a mother to have her youngest son at home with her. How to tell the world that home to St.. And don't you ever leave this house again. I like to talk to you for a minute. Well come on and pull up a chair. Your mother talking I have to come out on the porch to think I wanted to thank you for sending me
money in Chapel Hill for myself as much as you are. Funny thing in the world of study time great literature there is nothing fountain made of gold and that speech in Hamlet. To be young not to be that is the question whether tis nobler in the mind of man does suffer the first line to be or not. It's it's a pretty group in a way that I have a chance to be so as you are you have something big really big. Of course you have. You haven't found anybody in Western Carolina expecting you to be a principal of a school. Something greater than that helping people to know things Tom that well that's as great as a man can get it. But not just a school. There are things that must be said to the whole world and must be teaching aside more of the university than I thought for for a man to think you know and I don't know enough yet. I want to go back to school.
Well you have a fine job offered you. Oh I go to Harvard dad. Good Lord Tom Hardy What do you want me to do sell my business I've got a chance to be something that I've got to take that chance but I've got other children. You've no right to expect all the money for yourself but you know you have little enough money but little enough Tom. Well I just don't think I can. Do you want this to end. And how does this matter now does seem to Utah where it's a very nice school I think go and take a walk. You not leave it in I mean with you son just told me No Mrs Culbertson. By no stretch of biological reasoning could you be my son so I don't see what difference it makes you. Poor man I feel sorry for your father Tom. I'm sorry for him. I overheard what you were saying to him. I hope you don't blame me for listening. Get the
habit in the Borden house. Oh no it's alright. I thought I just had to say something Tom. You know how sick your father really I know might not last through the year. Of course the doctors keep sayin that year after year like Dead couldn't die. He's so much a part of all the living things I've known here but he will probably this year and whether that means anything or not when you decide whether to go away or dismisses coverts and it's really none of my business is oh don't worry about your business Mrs comments and like I said I'm only a boarder but even if you went and borrowed the money for Hava Tom still you'd be walking out on him when you need to write. Thank you Mrs comets and now if you'll excuse me I'm going for a walk myself. You'll be just like us Father that want. To be to.
Live with. The. Entire train did make it didn't it. It must have come on down have a beer with me. Not not now sir thank you though. You wouldn't understand Mr Kolker. Ever could. I don't myself. Nobody could. Understand about you. Just don't get your hopes to have leaves too much room in your ball Mr Coker nobody can see the soul of my life not even me. Nobody can. Tom you would overwhelm an oak tree with your soul into your writing. Big man must have big dreams.
Perhaps prophet understood. Perhaps. But more will not. She could not. Dad could never. Understand even if you will the money still you walk about on and let me just. Alone. Naked and alone. We came into Rex. And her dog. And her dog world we did not know our mother's face. From the prison of a shed we come into the arms of any community. The reason of this. They could never understand when you know Tom Wolf Omar is so good to have you
back him down big fellow. Thank you Mr. Cathy has really stayed busy and I am Dom and I feel a build up to be a big bounce on the. Oh I hope not so how's that. I don't think growth will make Ashton any more beautiful where lives will make my bank account a whole lot prettier though. See your mother told you any more of the town gossip since you've been home. No Mr. Cathy which you will bore never very well in a hurry are you. We'll tell you about a lot of good luck with you. Not for money. Not to be one of the last man to follow so little so desperately. There is so much that is him on the net at least of my hand with disco on all machinery. The cow crunching with depressed kid surpasses
any statue of a mower is medical and now just staggering. Death leaves of grass is greater than where our social standing. So much to say so many people must be made to hear so much to say so much of you with to put in old age now but not now not ever last welshed. May I use your phone sir. Everybody is always more than my mother has her prescriptions filled in
here all right. There it is. Books beside it. Thank you. Another long distance call to defend it. No no just being a military screw you numbers 4 7 2. Thanks. Number 0 4 7 2 operated as a student up there fella. No thought by your size you might make a good football in for them. Being a military school Colonel Bingham please Alon you know war doesn't like phones you know. Well no no I didn't have to speak up you know. Hello kind of being a Bedouin OConnell being on earth. Tom Wolfe Tom Wolfe's The University suggested me for English teacher in your school to the universe. They write about it. Well yes I'm fine and you shall write or call or drop I'm gone from PAX square
from town. Just wanted to say that I'll take thought if I care to hear it if I go over the good road will get good. Why don't you just walk on up it's for a five miles up there ARE YOU. Do morrow's. Quite a boy. Yes he's quite a boy. Now Tom stop right there at that door and tell me where you've been so like. And on your first night at home in months you knew you shouldn't have waited up oh don't tell me what I should do. You've been drinkin Tom. No I haven't but what you going to be like if I haven't had anything to drink ma believe me then stop standing there like a prisoner Sit down sit down.
I would rather go to bed like the rocker Nora. Now what rock our lives away. Stay here and rock. Oh I don't know why God ever pestered me with a boy that acts as strange as you do Tom. Did you have a fight or something by myself. Now that's not a sensible way to fight. I'd say shouldn't pick out a man as big as you are to stop talking about how tall I am hear it everywhere I go. How's the weather up there mister. Just saying. Dumb remark over and over don't get on your high horse around me Thomas Clayton will. The university didn't teach you much about manners did it. Taught me a lot about myself which I could have done for less money. You don't want to take that teaching job do you. Yes I do.
Don't lie to me. Then I don't want it. I want to write. Why not take the job teach and then teach ins easy enough goodness knows and and write in your spare time keep you out of mischief writing with me isn't a past time. I don't have time to waste 18 years old and you don't have time. You're not planning to die before you're 70 are you talk talk about dying. Don't even tell me there is death I won't listen when I'm 30 you can tell me and I'll believe you then you'll have time not to waste ma. There's a world in front of me waiting for me to talk to it and I don't know what to say exactly. Somehow I don't think I ever will never be able to say clearly just what the world owes me or what this house means. This street or this town or you know what I mean. But I have to try to say it. You just don't make
sense. Not even to myself but somewhere there must be an answer. I have to take a chance on finding it a chance on me more I've got to look yes you'd better go to bed Tom. Can't make heads or tails of what you're saying let me tell you this before I go to bed I get to get up early. Sun going down to Chapel Hill last time I got a cold in my chair you get to write me about cold it stayed with me and a week or so ago I began to cough it at first a dry cough then then a rattling tearing sort of call for full of phlegm. I became worried. My right lung was short of my time. One night I remember I was in my room and I started coughing. I put a handkerchief to my mouth. When I drew the handkerchief away there was a tiny spot of blood on it.
And you didn't write a word. Well I could have asked the dragon I was half sick with horror and I started to think about it. I swallowed pneumonia savate night and rubbed my chest with the stuff I ate cough drops a cold got better the cough subsided. It's gone now. The soreness is gone from my lungs. But that doesn't matter. What does matter is that I thought I thought and saw all those slow certain advance of the old skeleton with the side I saw there sure destruction the array's sure and I saw the blotting out of my dreams and poetry myself and I couldn't face it. Maybe I'm foolish not to want to take this job but I know that in 15 years I would be a
small town that power of my youth and last bit here blaming everybody for what might have been. I can't feel my soul in law I can't play the game safe and manage to still live. You're not a boy any longer are you Tom. Hardly know you. You spoke to your father. I told him I wanted to go to Harvard but he said that it wasn't fair to the others. It isn't. But I think if you got it as it was said to him he doesn't look any worse for that. But I heard you let the dead bury that they had. I couldn't do that not just for myself. He's not going to die any time soon. I called up the doctor only a few days ago and he said Well Mrs. Wolff I don't know what to tell you. He's been pronounced dead fifty times and he's still up and
around and he may outlast all of us. The doctor said that so tomorrow morning you will tell Colonel Bingham that you can't take the job book and you'll start getting your things ready for that Harvard look more modern. Don't stutter you always did stutter when you got excited and I don't like you don't bite me even send you the money. But to learn with money for learning is a fair swap. And when you start writing those big plays of yours you can thank me with them. Just write things the way they are and you'll thank me. I couldn't do anything less than that and make a success of yourself. Now get to bed. I'll come up in a minute and rub some must grow on your chest. I'm alright as I say and the white. Where is this Harvard anyway. It's in Massachusetts. Cambridge Massachusetts. Man that's a long way for a boy your age. You'll starve to
death in that Yankee country never knew you had a cook. Goodnight M. Good night Tom. Tom I always knew you'd get on the train. All right. Why hello there Mr Coco tongue Wolf where you go in this time I am going up Mr
program to that effect. It going to do your father mad. Your one right on to the top just where is there a long way from him has to go. But not out of reach it would sit out alone. Here Tom take your pick of one of the cigars. Thomas Wolfe born in Asheville North Carolina and 900 died in Baltimore September 15th 1938 after an operation following upon you Manya. He held a degree from the University of North Carolina and the Master's degree from Harvard. He left no great plays but his novels take their places among the best ever written by an American. Look Homeward Angel. Of time in the river. The Web and the rock. You can't go home again. The hills beyond.
American Adventure is written by Johnny Lee and directed by John Clayton produced by the communication center of the University of North Carolina American Adventure is a study of mine in the New World. His value is on his characteristics who he is what he believes. The series is made possible by the National Association of educational broadcasters and the fund for I don't education and independent agency established by the Ford Foundation. And unfound door is the last program in this year's American Adventure series. The last of 13. Johnny Lee John Clayton the staff of the communication center headed by Earl Wen and Ross Scruggs. The eight professors who served as our consultants the students faculty members and townspeople who have acted on these programs all of us are rather glad they're finished. We hope you're not. At any rate we intend to produce other programs for the American Adventure. You can help us by sending criticisms of this year's series and suggestions for next year's
address American Adventure communications site or Chapel Hill North Carolina. The American Adventure is produced and recorded by the University of North Carolina on the campus at Chapel Hill. This is the n AB network.
American adventure
Unfound door
Producing Organization
University of North Carolina
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
A study of the dedicated spirit. The story of novelist Thomas Wolfe as a young man.
Series Description
This series studies the values and characteristics of notable figures from America's early years. It is written by John M. Ehle and directed by John S. Clayton.
Broadcast Date
Social Issues
Wolfe, Thomas, 1900-1938--Childhood and youth.
Media type
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Actor: Wynn, Earl
Actor: Ehle, Gail
Director: Clayton, John S.
Host: Kasell, Carl.
Producing Organization: University of North Carolina
Subject: Wolfe, Thomas, 1900-1938
Writer: Ehle, John, 1925-
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 54-12-13 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:22
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Chicago: “American adventure; Unfound door,” 1954-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed November 28, 2023,
MLA: “American adventure; Unfound door.” 1954-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. November 28, 2023. <>.
APA: American adventure; Unfound door. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from